Indian National Congress: Moderates (1885-1905)

In the last post we have read about the foundation and first session of Indian National Congress. There were total 72 members in the first session of Indian National Congress. The journey of Congress before independence can be divided into three different phases,

Different Phases of Indian National Congress
Different Phases of Indian National Congress
  • Moderates (1885-1905)
  • Extremists (1905-1919)
  • Gandhian Era (1919-1947)

Here in this post, we shall read about the age of Moderates in Indian National Congress.

Moderates: Preface to Moderate Philosophy

Leaders of the first phase of Congress ie Moderates were following the philosophy of P^3 ie Prayer-Petition-Protest. Because of the following reasons,

  • They had faith in the British Constitution.
  • Indian National Congress was infant that time, so they never wanted to mess with the mighty British Empire.

Contribution of Moderates

Moderates played the role of pupil and mentor for the first phase of Indian National Congress. They played a role of guide to awaken the masses. The modern political ideology like Nationalism, Democracy etc was forgotten by the Indian masses because of a long period of slavery.

So, it was the moral duty of moderates to learn these ideologies and spread the ideas of Nationalism and Democracy throughout the country. So, as it was evident by the statement of Gopal Krishna Gokhale when he said,

We won’t be remembered in history for any big achievement but we will be remembered for our guide in the present scenario.

Drain of Wealth Theory: Dada Bhai Naraoji

The most remarkable contribution of moderates was the ideological background for the political struggle. They understood the economic exploitative pattern of the Britishers since the from Battle of Plassey to the then period. So, they actually realised that the main cause of suffering for the Indians was economic exploitation and suppression.

Dada Bhai Naraoji wrote the book “Poverty and Un-British Rule in India”. He explained the drain of wealth theory as well in his book. The economists R.C. Dutt, Subramaniyan Iyer etc also gave the same reasons for the suffering of the Indian masses.

As the Moderates had faith in the British Constitution, so they always emphasised on the governmental reforms instead of going for direct action against the government. Their political objective was to have good governance. Under it, important demand was legislative reforms,

  • Expansion of Legislature.
  • Conduction of Election.
  • Power to the Legislature
  • Promotion to the welfare activities.

The welfare activities included,

  • Promotion to the healthcare facility in India.
  • Indigenisation of higher services.
  • Foreign policy according to the interest of India.
  • Civil Rights to the people and separation of judiciary from the executive.

Important Moderates

Contribution of Dada Bhai Naraoji
Contribution of Dada Bhai Naraoji

Dada Bhai Naraoji also called as Grand Old Man of India. R. C. Dutt was a historian cum economist. Mahadev Govind Ranade was a big supporter of industrialisation and democracy. Satendra Nath Banerjee was a good orator, propagandist. S. N. Banerjee started National Convention and Indian Association to fight for the right.

Achievements of Moderates

Main Achievements of Moderates
Main Achievements of Moderates

Moderates were accusing British Government of misusing Indian revenue. So, Welby Commission was appointed to enquire the income and expenditure of India. Aitchison Commission appointed to review the condition of civil services in India. So, as per the recommendation of commission stratification was done in civil services. From now, civil services divided into two,

  • Imperial Services
  • Provincial Services

The main demand of the Indian National Congress Moderate lobby was to reform in the legislature. So, to satisfy the sentiments of the Moderates, Britishers came out with another India’s Council Act of 1892. Though the features of this act were not up to the mark, it pacified the Moderate lobby for the time being.

In the next coming post, we shall read about the features or provisions of the India’s Council Act 1892.

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